phone security text therapyTBHI Q&A: How can someone hack into my phone to access my texts?

Phone security should always be the clinicians’ priority when practicing text therapy. If you are concerned about cell phone security, consider these issues:

  • For iPhone users, someone might have gotten your Apple password and logged into your account on a computer, giving the thief access to your iMessage account.
  • It is also possible that someone has hacked your phone and installed an application that copies text messages or allows them to send them in your stead. For example, someone could use a program such as MightyText, which allows one to easily read and answer text messages from a computer. It could be exploited if someone installed it without your knowledge even if you think you have a secure phone.
  • Another issue that comes to mind is that cell phone text messaging is not HIPAA compliant without additional encrypted text messaging software. Some secure messaging apps feature great conveniences for users, but privacy and security at the levels required by HIPAA are not among them.

For licensed health care practitioners, any messaging app must be HIPAA compliant. If you are reading this message and have been using the text messaging system in your phone with healthcare patients for any reason, I encourage you to do these things to increase your phone security:

  • Examine our free directory to find the names of companies who advertise their platforms as being HIPAA compliant.
  • Be sure to get a Business Associate Agreement from any such company.
  • Include mention of your texting policies in your informed consent discussion/form.
  • See our texting course for 3 hours of do’s and don’ts to increase your phone security.
  • See our texting webinar for an hour of the basics and how they apply to work with online companies who offer employment using text messaging interfaces.

text therapyOffering Text Therapy?

Therapists are finding that clients are increasingly asking for text messaging in therapy. TBHI’s online training event entitled, “Is Text Therapy For You? Telehealth Legal/Ethical Requirements” will feature guest speaker Laura Groshong, AM, LICSW, Policy & Project Director from the Clinical Social Work Association (CSWA), who has published on the topic of text therapy. In the discussion with Dr. Maheu, basic risk management approaches to using text messaging will be reviewed. The popular choice of using text messaging as the basis for clinical care will be examined from the perspective of legal and ethical requirements. This discussion will also clarify considerations for accepting employment from online text therapy companies.

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